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The effects of the health care law — passed by Congress this past March — are now being felt by just about every American in some way, though most of the provisions have yet to actually be implemented.
For a few, the first provisions implemented last month will make their health coverage better. For most, the new law’s provisions are meaning higher premiums this year — for some those increases are becoming a bitter pill to swallow. And for many, as the Nov. 2 mid-term election draws near, how their congressman or senator voted on the bill is more likely than not to determine how they cast their vote in two weeks.
For some of those representatives in Congress, those votes will mean a job change and quite possibly a shift in what political party controls Congress the next few years.
Among the provisions of the bill implemented in September:
• Parents may keep their children on the family health insurance plan until they are 26 years old;
• Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions;
• Lifetime limits on many essential benefits are abolished; and
• Insurers must pay for a number of preventive services without charging deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance fees.
The effects should really be no surprise. A basic principle was being instituted — more coverage being offered means higher costs to the companies offering that coverage. Higher costs to the insurance companies means those cost increases are passed onto the consumers. It’s simple math that some chose to ignore during the health care reform debate.
But no longer.
Employees all over the country are finding out, as open enrollment periods begin, that their rates are being increased and in some cases coverage is being changed. Boeing employees, some 90,000 nonunion workers, were told last week that would be the case. The company mailed a letter out to workers stating that they would pay significantly more for their health plan next year while their deductibles and co-payments would increase.
Welcome to the realities of health care reform for all. There’s a reason a majority of Americans weren’t in favor of the reforms passed by Congress. And the effects on the costs and coverage of those who currently have health care coverage now are likely to only get more pronounced in the years to come as more of the law’s provisions are implemented.
Some folks are OK with that, if it means that all of this country’s residents will be insured. Others believe that the actual effects will go far beyond that goal and will drastically change the way health care is administered, paid for and offered once all of the changes are in place, several years down the road.
More provisions of the bill are coming the next several years. Whether someone believes those are good or bad, there should be no debate about the effects that will follow if the health care reform law is left in place. Costs will go up; coverage will be changed. It’s basic math.